SomewHERE: Visions from Chinese and Taiwanese Artists in Maine was a collaborative effort by eleven Colby College students in Professor Ankeney Weitz’s January term course, Asian Museum Workshop. The goal of the class was to gain an understanding of curatorial work by creating an art exhibition, while also exploring specific issues related to human migrations. Over the course of one month, the class visited and interviewed seven artists, discussed various curatorial options for selecting and presenting the art, organized the visual display and installed the work at the Common Street Arts Gallery, advertised the exhibition in print and online media, and wrote and designed this catalogue. Beyond the technical and intellectual aspects of the project, the students were able to connect emotionally with seven unique and talented artists, and to listen to their stories and experiences.
After long deliberation about what to call their exhibition, the students selected an intentionally ambiguous title, SomewHERE, which in later class conversations was invariably pronounced as “somewhere here.” The title suggests both the dislocation experienced by many immigrants and the adaptions undertaken to establish oneself in a new place “here.” The essays in this catalogue, while authored by three individual students, also evolved from class discussions about the overarching themes linking these artists’ heterogeneous visual productions. Lynna Lei takes on the difficult, if not impossible, task of defining the term “Chinese artist,” and finds that these artists break all stereotypes we might have. “Finding Place,” by Bea Smith, considers the immigrants’ heightened sense of one’s place in the world and the manifestations of that sensibility in selected works from the show. In “Self-Reflection,” Tashi Palmo explores the frequent use of self-portraiture or self-revelation by these artists as they contemplate their changing identities.
The show would not have been possible without contributions from the numerous individuals and institutions who helped us along the way. The generosity of all seven artists featured here, and their enthusiasm for our student project was both encouraging and motivating, and we owe them our heartfelt thanks. We are also grateful to Common Street Arts and Waterville Creates! for allowing us to partner with them and for the use the CSA gallery space. The Colby College Center for Arts and Humanities provided most of the funding for this project, in conjunction with the 2014-2015 Arts and Humanities theme project on Migration, organized by Profs. Tanya Sheehan and Natasha Zelensky. We would like to extend special thanks to: Vicki Crommett for secretarial assistance; Jacob Zhang for research assistance; Erin Murphy for help in filming and recording our experiences; Lisa Wheeler and the Board of Common Street Arts; Nate Rudy at Waterville Creates!; Matt Russ for his excellent installation support; Kerill O’Neill and Megan Fossa at the Center for Arts and Humanities; and Stew Henderson, Greg Williams, and Patricia King at the Colby College Museum of Art. Adam Nielson helped design and create this webpage.
Chrisbell (Jingwei) Ni
Sophia (Eleanor) Ozburn